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Dog Stays On As Nursing Home’s “Official Greeter” After Owner Passes Away


Should you ever find yourself visiting the Brookdale Senior Living Facility in Kingston, Tennessee you will likely be met at the door by their “Greeter.” A senior herself, Izzy the dog is somewhere between 10 and 13 years old, but that doesn’t stop her from hopping off her plush, blanket-draped bed to perform her “duties” each time the front door buzzer sounds.

Izzy’s owner, Jim passed away last September, shortly after the pair moved to Brookdale. He had no close family or friends to care for his beloved dog, who he had raised from a pup. Instead of sending Izzy off to an unknown fate in a shelter, the folks at Brookdale made the wonderful decision to keep her as their own.

Lesa Fuller, marketing and sales director at Brookdale, told USA Today that there was no debate in the matter at all. The dog was universally adored by staff, residents and guests. Everyone instantly agreed that Izzy would spend her remaining days right there with them. She was already home.

“We knew immediately she had to stay with us because we had already gotten so attached to her. You know, we rescued her but she really rescued us,” Fuller said.

Izzy was given a job title and a sun-drenched perch behind the front desk. She has free rein to wander the facility, but knows to keep out of the dining room and not get underfoot of the residents. When she isn’t welcoming visitors or making her rounds, she can be found in her cozy nook, gazing out the window or napping.

Although not much is known about Izzy’s life before arriving at Brookdale, it is clear that her owner, Jim loved her very much. She is healthy and extremely outgoing, a testament to the care she received from her dad. Fuller explained that Jim refused to enter assisted living without her by his side.

“He was in the hospital and he would not come without his dog. I went and visited him in the hospital, and I assured him Izzy would be taken care of if he came here,” she said.

Fuller and the rest of the gang at Brookdale have certainly honored that promise! When Jim’s respiratory condition worsened, he was moved back to the hospital where he passed away. Fearing that Izzy would “grieve herself to death,” Fuller allowed the dog time to transition into life without him. She left Jim’s door open and all his belongings just as they were for several days before moving Izzy out to the lobby.

“We’d let her come and go and she would go back to his room and come back to the lobby. After about a week and a half, we shut his door. She made the transition pretty well. I think it was the residents loving on her. She would go from one door to the next, and each one of them would pet her, give her treats.”

After some tummy troubles, Izzy’s treat intake was limited, but she still enjoys visiting with her favorite residents. She knows which ones enjoy her company and which ones prefer her to stay away – although she has managed to win over some of the latter! A recent visitor comment on the facility’s Facebook page reads:

“A sweet and gentle giant, Izzy is always in a bouncing happy mood. She brings life to our loved ones — even the ones that never liked dogs (my Mom). Thank you Brookdale Kingston for the love & support from ALL THE STAFF, which INCLUDES Izzy!”

Brookdale Assisted Living Facilities are located all across the country and pride themselves on being pet-friendly as long as a resident is able to care for the animal, and it does not pose a threat to other residents. Kingston is currently home to four cats and a pair of Dachshunds – and, of course, Official Greeter, Izzy!

H/T to USA Today

Featured Image via Facebook/Brookdale Kingston


Written by Dina Fantegrossi

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